Take It to Heart: Orange County California HC Outfit Looks to ‘The Brighter Side’ on Debut EP

Photo: AJ Dickerson

I recently watched the movie Orange County for the first time in what must’ve been a decade, or longer, I don’t know. I found myself wondering why Colin Hanks would want to leave such an idyllic place. Truth be told, this musing comes from a person sitting in quarantine, in oceanless Arizona, and while I’ve never been to the actual Orange County, if bands like Take It to Heart are the local standard, I’m sure that towns not the complete pits Hanks’ character bemoans it to be.

“Thematically, The Brighter Side is basically an abbreviated story of a lost kid trying to find his place in the world. Both in terms of finding a place to be happy and call it home as well as discovering and solidifying their identity,” said vocalist Jay on the EP’s themes.

“Someone struggling with mental health issues, abandonment and abuse while doing everything they can to see the brighter side of the situation. Finding even the smallest source of light in the dark and following that. Whatever the light may be. That’s open to interpretation.”

This quartet dishes out an energetic dose of melodic hardcore with their debut, The Brighter Side. The EP is an effortless balancing act of the style’s audible passion and pure hardcore fury, making for a breathless listen from beginning to end. The tracks burst with heartfelt tones that infuse its melodies with the energy demanded by melodic hardcore. There are points where this quality is downright addictive.

One such track, and my personal favorite off the EP, is fourth entry “Shattered Hearts.” Opening with breakneck two-steps before surging forward with gleeful abandon, the track reminds me of the unbridled emotion perfected by mid-to late 2000s Deathwish Inc. hardcore. The mosh-inducing moment is punctuated by elegant stabs of melody, carried by the vocals’ relentless power.

Closer “Where the Land and the Skyline Meet” is another particular point of interest, as it takes the EP’s best moments and amplifies them to anthemic levels. It reaches Have Heart levels, it’s that good. It’s a boisterous, powerful finale demonstrating that Take It to Heart are not only avid fans of their craft, but also burgeoning commanders of it.

“Seeing Have Heart headline Sound & Fury last year was a big part in catalyzing the formation and direction to go. In the wake of that experience, I think we all just felt like fast paced, emotionally engaging songs are something worth putting back into hardcore right now,” added bassist Ben on the band’s inspiration.

“American Nightmare, Carry On and Bane are also some favorites, and there’s definitely nods throughout the music we’ve written. I know Jay takes a lot of lyrical cues from Aaron Bedard and Pat Flynn, also Jesse Barnett from Stick to Your Guns.”

Photo: jpg4you

The Brighter Side is available now on Bandcamp. Don’t be a loser like Tom Hanks’ son, download it.

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